U.S. skier dies of asphyxiation in chairlift accident involving coat

A chairlift is shown at Vail Mountain in Colorado. Vail Mountain/Twitter

A 46-year-old man has died of asphyxiation after an accident involving his coat and a chairlift at a ski resort in Vail, Colo., officials say.

The incident happened on a chairlift in the Blue Sky Basin area of Vail Mountain on Feb. 13, Vail Mountain said in a statement to CNN.

Jason Varnish, of New Jersey, boarded the chairlift and slipped through the seat while his coat became caught in the chair, Eagle County Coroner Kara Bettis told the Vail Daily newspaper.

“The coat ended up going around his head and neck area, putting his neck in a position that compromised his airway,” Bettis said. She says the official cause of death was positional asphyxia.

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The chairlift seat was in the upright position instead of the down position at the time, Bettis said. The incident is being treated as an accident.

Vail Mountain says its staff provided CPR and emergency care before Varnish was transported to hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Blue Valley Basin was shut down for 24 hours after the incident and returned to normal operations on Friday.

“Vail Mountain and the entire Vail Resorts family express our sincere condolences and extend our support to the guest’s family and friends,” CEO Beth Howard is quoted as saying.

“The lift has been thoroughly inspected and is operating normally,” Vail Mountain added in its statement.

“We take all incidents seriously and are conducting a full investigation.”

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With files from The Associated Press

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